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Assembly Republicans Pack Bags Without Taking Action PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64   
Friday, 26 February 2016 11:54

capitol-nightThey rushed through nearly 200 bills last week to end the legislative session without taking action on major issues plaguing hardworking Wisconsinites.

MADISON - Last week, Assembly Republicans rushed through nearly 200 bills in what they promised will be the end of the 2015-2016 legislative session.

In all the session activity, there was no help for our public schools, no action to boost Wisconsin’s paltry job creation record and no action on sluggish wage growth. The party in power took no steps to address our crumbling roads and bridges and there was nothing done to lower monthly student loan payments for the one million Wisconsinites saddled with student loan debt.

peter_barcaOrdinary people tell me that they want their kids to get a high-quality education, they want to protect our lakes, and they want their communities to be safe and for small businesses to thrive. They want a chance to pursue the American Dream by working hard, playing by the rules and making a better future for the next generation.

Unfortunately, during the legislative session Republicans have been far more focused on rewarding their political friends than on addressing the issues ordinary Wisconsinites face.

  • Instead of investing in our neighborhood schools as we proposed, Republicans voted to divert $800 million in taxpayer funds over the next 10 years to unaccountable private schools.
  • Instead of growing jobs as we proposed, Republicans protected their own jobs by doubling campaign contribution limits and dismantling the non-partisan campaign oversight board.
  • Instead of stopping companies from outsourcing jobs on the taxpayer dime as we proposed, Republicans covered their own tracks by making it harder to prosecute political corruption.
  • Instead of growing wages as we proposed, Republicans drove down wages by passing right-wing policies like so-called “Right to Work” and gutting prevailing wage protections.
  • Instead of allowing student loan borrowers to refinance their debt as we proposed, Republicans offered weak alternatives that left the vast majority with no relief.
  • Instead of investing in our economic engines as we proposed, Republicans gutted the UW System by a quarter billion dollars and failed to reform our scandal-plagued jobs agency.
  • Instead of maintaining our parks, clean lakes and groundwater as we proposed, Republicans sold out our conservation tradition and sporting heritage and our future economy by selling off our parks and eviscerating environmental protections.

Worst of all, Republican legislators tried to keep more of what they’re doing secret. Their failed attempt to roll back our state’s open records laws would have made it nearly impossible for taxpayers to hold lawmakers accountable for their actions in office.

The people of Wisconsin deserve better.

Assembly Democrats spent all session aggressively pushing forward a positive alternative. That’s why we pursued an economic opportunity and middle-class agenda to grow jobs and wages and make us competitive in the global economy. We also advocated for sustainable transportation, full and fair funding for our public schools, and reforms to make our jobs agency and government more accountable to taxpayers.

Democrats look forward to building coalitions with organizations and small businesses to create a smarter, cleaner and more prosperous state.


Assembly writer Laura Smith contributed to this article.

Last Updated on Friday, 26 February 2016 12:16
Ask Walker to Veto SB 533 Ban on Localities Issuing IDs PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Art Heitzer, Milwaukee Turners   
Wednesday, 24 February 2016 11:11

scott-walker-clapsMILWAUKEE - SB 533 would block cities and municipalities of Wisconsin from issuing ID cards to those who are not able to obtain State IDs due to their legal status, because they are homeless, and/or transgender. Without IDs they generally cannot open bank accounts, get library cards, get some medicines, identify themselves to police, get access to their children's schools, etc.

Over 30 thousand people, Latinos and non-Latinos, different organizations and businesses marched on DAY WITHOUT LATINOS & IMMIGRANTS Thursday March 18th. SB 533 was already advanced and it is ready to be signed by Gov. Walker by Thursday Feb. 25th. As the systems works if Gov. Walker does not sign it within 6 days of passing thru the legislative process it becomes law automatically. So we want him to veto it.

Please consider calling the Governor today at 608 266-1212 as I did (best to call, but you can email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ) to ask him to veto SB 533.

I do not see any political gain to him in allowing this ban on localities issuing IDs, and it seems like nothing more than another punitive measure, attacking local government and its ability to address real problems of its residents.


Here is the contrary argument, per this WUWM report: "Supporters of the plan to ban local IDs fear it would lead to confusion and fraud."  Read more

Also see this important WSJ in depth study on the effects of Arizona's anti-immigrant measures, which forced 100,000 people out of the state and had a negative effect on its overall economy at

Last Updated on Tuesday, 01 March 2016 10:17
Bernie’s Healthcare Plan is Revolutionary PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist   
Tuesday, 23 February 2016 17:33

bernie-sandersJust what we need to control costs & provide single payer healthcare for all!

STOUGHTON, WI - The Democratic debate in Milwaukee on February 11th was not one of the best nights for either Sanders or Clinton when it came to explaining their competing healthcare plans for America.

Bernie’s plan basically is the Medicare for All bill supported by progressives for years in our Congress.  This plan would revolutionize healthcare into a single payer system in the US.  The Federal government would tax individuals and employers and with these taxes pay all the healthcare bills for every man, woman and child in America.

In a recent poll 51% of Americans support single payer while 37% oppose it.

Clinton’s plan is basically trying to improve on Obama’s Affordable Care plan by charging additional taxes to pay for incremental changes and expansion of that system.  Basically Clinton keeps the present broken healthcare system of insurance companies, drug companies and for profit and non-profit hospitals in control.

The single payer Medicare for all has gotten nowhere in the past because of continued  campaign finance corruption - whereby healthcare special interests dump bags of money into the political campaigns of politicians supporting the status quo.

Clinton repeatedly asked Sanders where does the money come from?  How much does it cost?  Will it raise taxes?  And of course she states her plan is superior to Sanders’.

Sanders’ plan, including additional taxes, is on his website hiding in plain sight.  It’s a few pages long:

I am sure Clinton’s staff has studied it well.

It would replace the present US healthcare system with a new single payer system where the Federal government pays all the costs for the system and raises various taxes to pay the bill.  All Americans would receive complete healthcare including prescriptions, dental, mental health and long term care.  Americans would have no more co-pays, no more deductibles and no more arguments with insurance company clerks.

Present total healthcare cost is estimated at about $3.2 TRILLION/yr. for about 323 million people in the USA or about $10,000/yr. per person.

Proposed Medicare for All system cost is estimated to cost about $1.4 TRILLION/yr. with likely additional startup costs.

Taxes:  All present government revenue presently spent on healthcare would be placed into the Medicare for All account.

The following new taxes are added and get placed into the same federal account.

  • 6.2% income based healthcare tax by employers – estimated revenue $.63T/yr.  (Example:  For a person earning $50,000/yr. the employer would pay $3,100/yr.  On average an employer today pays $12,600/yr. for family health insurance.  Sanders plan would save the employer about $9,500/yr.)
  • 2.2% income based tax on households – est. rev. $.21 T/yr. (Example: Per Sanders, a family of 4, after taking the standard deductions, would pay 2.2% on their taxable income for healthcare.  That 2.2% would equal $466/yr.  Presently a family pays about $5,000 in premiums plus about $1,300 in deductibles for a total of $6,300/yr.  Thus the family would save over $5,800 annually.)

How can both the employer and the worker save substantially each year and still have quality healthcare?  Because the high money earners (both salary and unearned income) and the wealthiest Americans will pay higher taxes.  And various tax breaks related to company healthcare spending would be eliminated.

  • Increase marginal income tax rates – est. rev. $.11T/yr.

o   To 37% on incomes over $250,000/yr.

o   To 43% on incomes over $500,000/yr.

o    To 48% on incomes over $2 million/yr. (the top 0.08% or approximately 113,000 households)

o    To 52% on incomes over $10 million/yr. (the top 0,01% or approximately 13,000 households)

  • Tax unearned income (capital gains and dividends) the same as income from work – est. rev. $92B/yr.
  • Limit tax deductions for families making over $250,000/yr. – est. rev. $15B/yr.
  • Place a new tax system on the estates of the wealthiest 0.3% of Americans with estates over $3.5 million – est. rev. $21B/yr.
  • Savings from health tax expenditures.  Per Sanders plan “Several tax breaks that subsidize health care (health-related “tax expenditures”) would become obsolete and disappear under a single-payer health care system…” – est. rev. $310B/yr.

Total additional federal revenues per year equal approximately $1.388TRILLION or about $1.4TRILLION.

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ Medicare for All single payer healthcare plan is a healthcare plan that’s smart for kids, working families and seniors.  It’s smart for American corporations facing an unlevel playing field in developed nations that already have single payer healthcare for their workers.

Sanders’ Medicare for All is a revolution I am in favor of.  Are you?

Read more at to help you decide how to vote Tuesday, April 5th in the WI presidential primary.


Buzz Davis, of Stoughton, treas. Progressive WI – Lets Rebuild America, is a Sanders advocate, a long time progressive activist, a member of Veterans for Peace and a former VISTA Volunteer, Army officer, elected official, union organizer and retired state government planner. This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Overcoming the Biggest Obstacle PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Tuesday, 23 February 2016 13:10

sand-mining-wiALTOONA, WI - Gandhi said: “Our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world as in being able to remake ourselves.”

For years I’ve been blessed to be asked to travel the state to speak to every imaginable kind of group. Everywhere I’ve gone, I’ve had the chance to do way more listening than speaking. I was inspired to write a book and Blue Jean Nation was formed because of what I kept hearing.

Everywhere I’ve gone I hear something else too. Sometimes it sounds defeatist. Other times powerless. Every once in a while hopeless. Or even helpless.

I get where these feelings come from. So many barriers to true democracy and real representation have been erected. Voter suppression. Gerrymandering of political boudaries. Consolidation of control over news media in fewer and fewer hands. Ever-greater sums of money in politics. Secrecy and hostility to open government laws and traditions. Courts packed with partisans.

These obstacles are formidable. I’ll grant you, the odds are not in our favor.

But the odds have never favored common folk. The odds didn’t favor the abolitionists or suffragists or the civil rights movement either. Or the progressives and populists who were up against the robber barons in the Gilded Age, or exploited West Virginia coal miners, or children working in textile mills, or the original Republicans who gathered in the little white schoolhouse in Ripon Wisconsin, or the women’s rights movement or gay rights movement, or Gandhi in his time or Malala Yousafzai in ours.

Remember, the abolitionists ended slavery. The progressives beat the robber barons. The suffragists got women the vote. The coal miners got unions. The textile mills eventually were forced to respect child labor laws. The original Republicans drove a major party to extinction. Civil rights activists ended Jim Crow. Gandhi led the Indian people to independence. Malala is making it possible for girls to go to school all around the world.

Remember, the obstacles we face today are not new. They are as old as the hills. Voter suppression and gerrymandering were not invented in 2011. These practices are as old as the republic.

The effects of gerrymandering won’t be overcome in Wisconsin by enacting Iowa’s redistricting system here. Those in office won’t pass such a law. It’ll be overcome by political realignment, by changing enough hearts and minds of enough voters to thwart the willful rigging of elections.

We won’t beat money by amending the constitution, we’ll amend the constitution by beating money . . . by breaking its grip on our minds.

All the political professionals and consultants and others with the “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” mentality call this unilateral disarmament.

I’m not saying you should unilaterally disarm. I’m saying we should fight with different and more powerful weapons.

We won’t beat money by doing what money does. We’ll beat it by doing what money can’t do.

As the song says, “money talks, but it don’t sing and dance, and it don’t walk.”

Money don’t love either. It don’t marry. It can’t nurse a sick child . . . or comfort a dying loved one.

We don’t need what all that money buys. We don’t need pollsters to tell us what to think. We can think for ourselves. We don’t need speechwriters and teleprompters to put words in our mouths. We can speak for ourselves. We don’t need ad agencies to sell us to our neighbors the way they sell laundry detergent and hair care products and beer and potato chips. We can build relationships.

This is why I say that if Blue Jean Nation could only do one thing, my choice would be to contribute in every way we can to loosening and eventually breaking the grip of the political consulting industry that lords over our democracy and our society.

When democracy in America is rescued, it won’t be political consultants and professional politicians who do the rescuing. It’ll be saved by people who don’t practice politics for a living, people with a life outside of politics, people with the odds stacked against them.

People Make a Difference Despite Haste at Capitol PDF Print E-mail
Commentary - Commentary
Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
Monday, 22 February 2016 16:58

capitol-takekidsGood people can make a difference to bills moving swiftly through the legislature, like AB 554 where overwhelming constituent contact in legislative offices stopped action on a GOP proposal to allow an out-of-state corporation to buy and operate public water utilities. Sen. Kathleen Vinehout writes about the speed with which bills are moving through the Legislature and how people’s action has made a difference.

Last Updated on Monday, 22 February 2016 17:33
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