Wednesday August 23, 2017

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Green Bay Sen. Dave Hansen Responds to Republican Criticism of Foxconn Statement

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is a Founding Partner and Publisher of the N.E. Wisconsin - Green Ba
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on Friday, 28 July 2017
in Wisconsin

foxconn-wisconsin-plantState Republican cheerleaders for $3 billion payoff to Foxconn for new plant call Hansen's caution “beyond appalling” and “insane.” Anyone concerned about Wisconsin taxpayers should be urging caution says Hansen.

GREEN BAY - Yesterday, on these pages, State Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) said that Wisconsin should be extremely cautious in any use of taxpayer dollars to lure Foxxconn to the state citing concerns that new technologies could eliminate any promised jobs.

Hansen was referring, of course, to the much ballyhooed announcement in Washington that Taiwanese technology giant Foxconn, maker of the LCD displays on iPhones among other things, planned to build a factory in southeastern Wisconsin creating something like 3,000 to 13,000 jobs. On top of that, the average pay for jobs would be around $54,000 a year.

Republicans from President Donald Trump to Governor Scott Walker were quick to claim it as one of the greatest deals of the century and one that would put "rust belt" Wisconsin back on the manufacturing map. Walker especially wanted the glory of landing a big one to justify his rather lackluster record on job creation. He has still not reached, well into his second term, his campaign promise to create 250,000 new jobs by the end of his first.

Industry observers were more skeptical of the Taiwanese company, highlighting Foxconn's poor record on worker rights, its goal of replacing workers with robots, and a history of grand promises that don't always play out.

Another bump in the road was that Foxconn wants a massive $3 billion in state tax breaks to build it's new plant here. The Washington Post was quick to report that the "Foxconn deal to build massive factory in Wisconsin could cost the state $230,700 per worker".

In this environment, any "legislator thinking of supporting what could be a $3 billion incentive package should be very wary,” said Hansen. “To do otherwise would be a serious case of legislative malpractice."

Simple good sense in stewardship of our tax dollars one would think. But not so for four Republican lawmakers from northeast Wisconsin who called Hansen’s concerns that Foxconn could replace jobs at the plant with robots after taking the money “beyond appalling” and “insane.”

david-steffenAs reported by the Post, “One need look no further than the shipyards and foundries in Marinette or the paper manufacturers scattered throughout the area to see that our area’s economy thrives on manufacturing,” said state Rep. John Nygren, co-chair of the Legislature’s budget committee. Rep. David Steffen, of Green Bay, said there will be countless economic benefits across the state. “To think that someone would actively cheer against this type of economic growth is insane,” Steffen said.

dave-hansenSenator Hansen had this response late today on the comments by the Republican Foxconn deal cheerleaders:

“As someone who worked successfully with Senator Herb Kohl and Governor Doyle to bring over a 1,000 new jobs to Marinette Marine, efforts to paint me as anything but supportive of manufacturing and new jobs are disingenuous at best and a deliberate distortion of my comments at worst.

“Nowhere in my statement did I say I am opposed to what could be a great opportunity for our state. But pardon my skepticism when the comments made in regard to my call for caution are from the very people who still have not been able to produce a budget and who created WEDC with its long history of failing to hold companies that receive state tax dollars accountable when they fail to create jobs.

“Anyone concerned about Wisconsin taxpayers should be urging caution when it comes to offering a foreign corporation $3 billion of our precious state tax dollars. Especially when it involves a corporation which recently replaced 60,000 low-paid workers with lower cost technology and has stated that its goal is to automate its manufacturing facilities to the fullest extent possible.”

Wisconsin has been burned before by Walker's blind faith in big business and trickle down economics. Hansen's cautions should be taken seriously.

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Do We Put All Our Eggs in the Foxconn Basket?

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
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on Friday, 28 July 2017
in Wisconsin

walker-terry-gou-foxconnPoliticians typically try to build the economy top down, showering tax breaks and subsidies on a few thousand of the richest among us or even just one company like Foxconn. The other way is from the bottom up, giving the whole population the means to do more for themselves. Bottom-up is best.

ALTOONA - To me, the most important question is not whether Foxconn is a good company. Or whether Foxconn can be trusted to deliver on its promises. Or whether the benefits of this deal for Wisconsin will at least equal the costs to the public when all is said and done. These are all very important questions, but not the most important.

The most important question is what basket should we be putting our eggs in? If we're going to spend $3 billion, should it be to subsidize the expansion of one company from Taiwan, or should we spend it to empower the more than 5 million people who call Wisconsin home?

I think we should spend it on people. We should concentrate on developing the human potential of our own population. We should be equipping people to do for themselves rather than hoping that a multinational corporation from the other side of the world will work some magic for us.

Most new jobs get created by small businesses, not global conglomerates. But countless people with great ideas who dream of starting their own businesses too often feel trapped, with no choice but to stay in dead-end jobs because that's the only way they can hold on to health insurance for their families. Using our resources to guarantee health care for all and detach health insurance from employment would be one of the single best investments we could possibly make to unleash the creativity and ingenuity of our state's population. People would be free to be entrepreneurs and take their ideas and turn them into new businesses.

What's the best use for $3 billion? What basket should we be putting our eggs in? The way I see it, the best investment is developing the potential of Wisconsin's population through things like health care for all, affordable and debt-free education and job training, and bringing 21st Century necessities like high-speed Internet to every household in the state.

There are two paths to building a sturdy economy. Politicians typically try doing it from the top down, showering tax breaks and state subsidies on a few thousand of the richest among us or even just one company in hopes that some of what they get will trickle down to the rest of us. The other way is from the bottom up, giving the whole population the means to do more for themselves and each other.

The bottom-up approach is the best bet.

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Proceed with Caution During Foxconn Frenzy

Posted by Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7
Chris Larson, State Senator, District 7
Chris Larson (D) is the Wisconsin State Senator from the 7th District in Milwauk
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on Thursday, 27 July 2017
in Wisconsin

trump-walker-foxconn-anncWisconsinites should not blindly put their faith, and money, in this jobs promise. We’ve been deceived by Walker’s rose-tinted glasses before.

MADISON - It is with good reason that Wisconsinites are not yet willing to blindly put their faith, and money, in a feeble jobs promise. We’ve been deceived by Walker’s rose-tinted glasses before.

Since taking office, Walker has left a trail of broken promises. His pattern of deception has resulted in our hard-earned tax dollars being handed over to campaign donors and companies that outsource, as well as some of the biggest tax breaks going to the richest people in the state, some of whom have used tax loopholes to avoid paying any state income tax for years.

Our neighbors care about making sure this is a good deal for everyone in Wisconsin. Any move for Foxconn to locate in Wisconsin must also fit with the spirit of our great state. We look to partner with companies that will respect our state’s shared lands and waters. We should reward companies that pay our neighbors a living wage and treat them fairly. If they expect special treatment, they need to have a long-term commitment to our state so we know they won’t abandon Wisconsin as soon as a new enticement goes on the table from somewhere else.

Wisconsin leaders should not commit to corporate welfare or anything that carves out special exceptions in our laws if it will unfairly hurt local businesses already in our state. Every small-business owner knows: with a billion dollar pinky swear, the devil is always in the details.

Too many people in our state are struggling in low-wage jobs and living in fear that any day the security of health care could be pulled out from under them. They deserve leaders who will be looking out for their future.

We demand fairness, and that’s what we’ll be looking for in this deal.

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Wis Democracy Campaign 'School Voucher $$$'

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
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on Wednesday, 26 July 2017
in Wisconsin

wis-democracy-campaign$8.5 million reasons why State GOP wants to expand school vouchers, financial filings at Walker run Republican Governors Association, and more...

MADISON - While almost all the press coverage on the state budget lately has been about the petty bickering among GOP leaders over transportation, there’s been little attention paid to a relatively united GOP effort to greatly expand school vouchers. We show the money behind this push here.

$8.5M reasons Wisconsin GOP wants to expand school vouchers

In other news, our research staff has been pouring over recent financial filings of special interest electioneering groups. One such group is the Republican Governors Association, now headed by none other than Scott Walker. That may be why some wealthy Wisconsinites decided to fork it over, as we note here:

10 Wisconsin donors give outside electioneering group $1M+

You know why I don’t get depressed by all this big money being tossed around, even when we see it up close and personal every day here?

Because I also see an amazing grassroots movement to do something about this. I bet you didn’t know that Wisconsin is second only to Massachusetts in the number of communities that have voted, by overwhelming margins, that they want to amend the U.S. Constitution to proclaim, once and for all, that corporations aren’t persons and money isn’t speech. It’s been voted on in in 112 communities, and it's passed every single time!

In Door County alone, seven communities have climbed on board just in the last six months, as you’ll see here:

Door County pushes amendment to overturn Citizens United

This is one of the most under-reported stories in the state. You heard it here first!

I hope you’re having a nice summer.


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

P.S. Please support our urgent work with a tax-deductible gift by clicking here or making and mailing a check to the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.

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Steps Toward the Future of Health Care

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
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on Tuesday, 25 July 2017
in Wisconsin

health-care-costsSen. Vinehout writes about the introduction of her Badger Health Benefit Authority bill to create a state health marketplace. She shares how Wisconsin can do better for serving all with affordable and accessible health care.

MADISON - An older man contacted me recently with a problem. A visit to the doctor left him with thousands in unpaid bills. Medicare deemed the tests “routine” and not a “medical necessity.” But the gentleman was told, for his occupation, the tests were absolutely necessary.

He was left with a medical bill costing more than his 2017 income.

The top-notch staff at the Department of Health Services (DHS), discovered the man was likely eligible for Medicaid. But the man wasn’t interested.

The constituent relations department within DHS has been a godsend over the years, helping me solve many difficult medical cases. I’m very grateful for their help. I’m sure they saved many lives by connecting people to health coverage. But, if a person doesn’t want state help, there is little they or I can do.

Unless we change our state health care system and the perception of seeking assistance.

What if everyone had affordable health care? If you hadn’t signed up, you could sign up the first time you saw the doctor, physician’s assistant or nurse practitioner.

Behind the scenes, hospitals and clinics know they’d be paid. If you were eligible for Medicaid, you’d get the benefits. Seamlessly, payers would pay bills, providers would be paid and people would no longer pay any insurance premiums.

You could choose a provider in your area from several options. Your plan would include comprehensive benefits including maternity and mental health coverage.

If you lost your job, you could keep your health coverage. If you took a new job or started your own business, you could keep your health coverage.

Employers no longer would worry about health coverage. Sure, they could offer extra benefits if they wanted, but basic coverage would be disconnected from employment – taking a huge irritation off a company’s plate.

Health care doesn’t have to be so complicated. Other countries have figured out how to solve this problem. And Wisconsin can too.

In fact, ten years ago this summer, Wisconsin actually had a plan on the table to create such a system. Senate Democrats introduced Healthy Wisconsin, a plan written by Senators Erpenbach, Miller and myself. Under our plan, coverage would have cost 14.5% of payroll – split between employers and employees.

This summer, an idea to offer BadgerCare for all attracted attention. I support the plan and see the idea as a first step. Details of the plan are sparse, but it would require the Trump administration to allow a public option in Wisconsin on the federal marketplace

Minnesota’s Governor Dayton introduced a plan to offer MinnesotaCare as a public option. He used the state’s authority and the state’s own health care marketplace, MNsure. He put together a plan that leveraged federal dollars and the state’s large Medicaid pool to add self-employed and small business people. According to the Minnesota Department of Health, the cost would be entirely funded by premiums and tax credits.

GOP controlled Legislators didn’t deliver Dayton’s request, but Minnesota is a lot closer to moving to a public option than Wisconsin. Wisconsin needs the flexibility of our own marketplace to explore options that work best for our state. That’s why I recently introduced a bill to create Wisconsin’s own health care marketplace.

Senate Bill 359 and Assembly Bill 445, the companion co-authored by Representative Sargent, creates a unique badger-based approach to a health marketplace. Using innovations to balance high quality, cost control and wide access, Wisconsin can have its own approach.

We can move toward a system that minimizes the everyday hassles of health insurance and eliminates the fear of a loss of coverage just when you need it the most.

Access to affordable, high quality health care is a duty of our society to everyone. Health care for all is a moral responsibility of our people to each other. Finding the best way to pay for and deliver the care should be the topic of discussion. Instead, some public officials propose dropping coverage and cutting state budgets. Harsh talk stigmatizes Medicaid.

Instead, let’s share our vision of what health care for all looks like for each of us. And, meanwhile, support leaders who find ways to work together and take steps toward our mutual vision.

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