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Lively Biden Takes It To Ryan in Debate

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, 12 October 2012
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debate_stageDANVILLE, KY - The “Thriller in Manila”  it was not, but when Janesville Congressman Paul Ryan and Vice President Joe Biden met across the table in a lively, combative debate Thursday, the VP was not about to let Ryan get away with any of the “malarkey” the Republican had been spreading about his President.

Biden, 69, took after the Republicans with far more aggression than President Barack Obama had displayed in his Denver debate, questioning and challenging the other party's ideas and opinions. Ryan, 42, was far more methodical and less demonstrative than Biden. Ryan spent part of the debate on the attack, but mostly he was on the defensive.

It was the sort of debate in which both candidates likely gratified their own supporters and left the other side shouting "liar" at the TV screen. Biden presented a relentless populist critique of GOP policies, while Ryan tried to shift the debate to an indictment of the Obama administration on the economy and foreign policy. The outcome was probably in the eye of the beholder, with activists on both sides hearing what they wanted to hear.

But there is no doubt Biden succeeded in energizing the Democratic base, a factor that was missing after the Denver debate and will become critical in the final weeks of this close campaign. A snap CNN-ORC International poll showed voters who watched Thursday's debate saw it as basically a statistical draw, while a similar poll had given GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney a clear debate victory in Denver.

The 90-minute debate moderated by Martha Raddatz of ABC News was divided between domestic and foreign policy issues. The moderator and candidates sat a few feet apart, a more intimate format that encouraged informality and interaction that often gave way to rapid-fire interruptions, especially on Biden's part.

On defense and security, Ryan talked in generalities, "We should always stand up for peace, for democracy and individual rights. And we should not be imposing these devastating defense cuts."

Biden responded: "With all due respect that's a bunch of malarkey. Not a single thing he said is accurate."

While Ryan characterized the Obama foreign policy as passive and "unraveling," Biden suggested the Republican ticket was too ready to go to war.

"The last thing America needs is to get into another ground war in the Middle East," Biden said.

Ryan seemed on the defensive over gaps in the details of the Romney tax plan and accusations it would help the wealthy at the expense of the middle class. At one point, Biden ridiculed him for attacking the stimulus plan while writing letters of support for constituents seeking stimulus funding.

Biden said Republicans would end Medicare as we know it. Ryan said they would save it from going bankrupt with market-based payout to the insurance companies.

At one point, Raddatz asked both Biden and Ryan how being Catholic would guide them in the job of Vice President. Ryan said his Catholic views would guide him on making abortion illegal for everyone, regardless of their religion, through the legislative process.  Biden felt his religious views should guide him in his own life, but he did not feel his job in government gave him the right to impose them on others.

In the end, it came down to an issue of trust, with Vice President Biden looking straight into the camera and offering a career record standing up for people and middle class values as evidence of where he stands. He contrasted his record with the Republicans, who just seemed to discover 100 per cent of the people in the last few weeks of the campaign. Ryan’s closing was more prepared, a restatement of the points he had been making throughout the campaign.

Both men will be in Wisconsin in the days following the debate. Biden has a campaign event planned in La Crosse Friday, his first post-debate event. Ryan goes to Ohio Friday, but will headline a fundraiser for Senate candidate Tommy Thompson Sunday, and hold a town-hall meeting Monday morning at Carroll University in Waukesha.

The next presidential debate is Tuesday at Hofstra University in New York.

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Where Has the New Moderate Mitt Been these Past Years?

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 Wednesday, 10 October 2012
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mitt_romneyGREEN BAY – It seems that Mitt Romney is constantly trying to refocus his campaign, yesterday it was on foreign policy, and today it’s on agriculture. It is all a continuation of the NEW “Moderate Mitt” that appeared in last week’s debate. But he still hasn’t offered any specific ideas to fill out his new positions.

For the past two years, Mitt Romney has reset his campaign over and over again, apparently to appeal to different voters as he goes along. Yesterday he tried out a new stand on foreign policy, and today he’s moving to agriculture, but neither speech offered any specific plans.

In trying to outline his agriculture policy, Romney dodged the details because he knows his plans would hurt rural Americans.

  1. He didn’t mention the wind production tax credit he opposes, risking thousands of jobs in Iowa and Colorado.
  2. He barely mentioned the Farm Bill, failing to say what should be in it or call on Republicans in Congress to pass it. That’s probably because his running mate, Rep. Paul Ryan, and their allies in Congress keep blocking it.

Earlier, Romney gave his seventh foreign policy speech, each one less specific than the last. He said he would go back to the same policies that weakened our standing in the world and drove us billions of dollars into debt under the Bush Administration.

  1. His speech was widely panned for lacking policy details and ignoring facts.
  2. Romney doubled down on an indefinite troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Romney’s constantly changing stands are just as dishonest as his debate performance, where the “New Mitt” appeared after nearly two years of the “Severely Conservative Mitt”  used to sell his candidacy to the Republican conservative base.

  1. He was dishonest about the size of his tax breaks for the wealthiest because they’re so big, he’d have to raise taxes on middle-class families to pay for them.
  1. He was dishonest about his health care plan because it would leave millions with preexisting conditions uninsured when they need coverage the most.
  2. He was dishonest about his Medicare plan because it would take away seniors’ guaranteed benefits and raise their health costs by thousands of dollars.
  3. He didn’t honestly lay out a specific plan for dealing with the deficit. Instead he said we should cut funding for Sesame Street.

It all makes one wonder “which Mitt” they would be voting for in November. When a candidate will not give you specifics, and keeps changing his beliefs to satisfy this voter block and that, can you trust them to be our President?

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More Facts Needed about Seniors and Obamacare

Posted by Nate Myszka
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on Sunday, 02 September 2012
in Wisconsin

There are lots of rumors about Obamacare. Many are aimed at scaring seniors, and it’s election time so we’re hearing even more. So what’s true?

Will “unelected bureaucrats” at the Independent Patient Advisory Board (IPAB) “ration” my care? No – Politifact, a Pulitzer Prize winning fact-checker, says “The IPAB is forbidden from submitting ‘any recommendation to ration health care,’ as Section 3403 of the health care law states. It may not raise premiums for Medicare beneficiaries or increase deductibles, coinsurance or co-payments.” Instead, it makes recommendations to bring costs under control when spending increases too much. Our elected Congress can overrule them anytime.

Is Obamacare doubling premiums, cutting Medicare, and reducing benefits? Again the answer is no, but you can check your own premium and benefits. Medicare’s actuary predicts premiums will rise only slightly in coming years, to $112.10 in 2014. And under Obamacare, Medicare’s budget still increases, but not as much as previously forecast. It does so by making Medicare more efficient and has actually extended Medicare’s life.

At the same time, Obamacare has added benefits to Medicare. Many preventive services are now available without co-pay or deductible so we can catch things early or prevent them altogether, saving money and lives. Seniors hitting the “donut hole” now get a 50% discount on brand name prescription drugs.

We know it’s an election year, but seniors have paid into Medicare and they’ve earned the truth. If you come across more rumors, please contact us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 414-771-9511.

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Recall is the “Wisconsin Way”

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 Wednesday, 30 May 2012
in Our View

vote-buttonGREEN BAY - I see even Scott Walker is running ads to “stop the recall madness”, saying there is a “right way and a wrong way” to do it and the current effort to recall him is not the “Wisconsin Way”. The ads appeal to the basic fairness of the people of Wisconsin.

Funny that I remember the same plea, “stop the recall madness”, being made against Scott Walker and his pals in the Citizens for Responsible Government (CRG), as they pushed the recall “madness” to new heights down in Milwaukee County in 2002. Scott Walker got the job of Milwaukee County Executive and, eventually, Governor because of the “recall madness” and Walker's pals liked the act so well that they spread it throughout the county and state, ending the careers of many politicians along the way.

I helped in the recall movement, first lending aid to six Milwaukee County Supervisors who were the targets of recalls and then helping the Citizens for Responsible Leadership in the City of Franklin, a splinter group, replace five of the city's six aldermen and eventually its mayor. Those were heady times.

I have told many people over the the years that the current recall movement is a “dangerous thing”, and that “once you take it out of the box, it's pretty hard to put it back in”. Maybe it's run full circle now, coming back around to bite Scott Walker and his pals, who helped start it.

There is nothing wrong with the recall, and it is the essence of the “Wisconsin Way”. It is not impeachment, like the one against President Clinton, that most people are familiar with. Wisconsin's Constitution does not offer that option.

A recall is like a grand jury indictment, with the largest grand jury of all, all the people, getting to sign a petition to call a special election. The election itself is like the trial, with the largest jury of all, all the voters, getting to decide whether to remove the politician from office. It is the ultimate expression of “popular democracy”, with every citizen who shows up to vote getting an equal voice in the outcome, regardless of wealth or station.

The election next Tuesday, June 5th, is about Scott Walker and how he has chosen to represent us, nothing else. Don't let all the big money ads from his out of state donors confuse the issue. Scott Walker has been called to stand before all of us, down in the figurative city square, to be judged on his actions. We all get one vote in the verdict.

The only thing that is not the “Wisconsin Way”, is not to vote.

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Republicans Pull Out Big Guns And Dems Falter

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 Tuesday, 22 May 2012
in Our View

GREEN BAY - You can  feel it in the air. You go on FaceBook and all your progressive friends are posting about their vacation plans, or new babies, or whatever. Except for a few “super activists”, you would think there was nothing special coming up in two weeks. Certainly not the election to finally oust Scott Walker from the Governor’s office, after a year and a half of shouting and crying, picketing and passing around recall petitions.

The Republicans, like the British in our first revolution,  pulled out their “big guns” last week and the colonists took to the hills. Scott Walker got his DWD Secretary to fish around for some report with positive job numbers on it, unverified or not, and used some of his $25 million in out of state cash to fill the air waves with TV and radio ads boasting that his first year in office was really a success after all. His allies, the local Chambers of Commerce, piped in with new ads of their own to cross verify his fiction. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who started the whole Wisconsin recall resurgence in 2002 by going after F. Thomas Ament and putting Scott Walker into office as Milwaukee County Executive, kicks in that they now oppose recalls, especially of Walker, unless a felony is proven.  Bang, the “polls” of  “likely voters” show Walker ahead with a 49% to 42% lead.

In one short week the progressive and democratic grassroots effort to recall Walker has been seemingly driven into disarray. Did everyone believe that the power structure would let go of the office of governor that easily, especially after they put all that money into putting their hand picked guy there in 2010.

The time has come to take a deep breath and remember what this recall is about. Walker and his high paid ad men pulled the oldest trick in the book. Throw out some numbers and divert the issue. Doesn’t matter that they can’t be verified, by the time they are the election will be over. Now we are talking about whose numbers are correct, not about why Walker needs to be recalled. I can hear them now, “a win-win“,  I’ve been in those meetings.

Democrats and progressives need to get back on the real issue if they are going to defeat Walker and the big money machine on June 5.  The power to recall was put into Wisconsin law to allow the people to directly oust any politician they want to. The politicians don’t like it, but it’s not impeachment. No high crimes or misdemeanors are required. It is the true test of a democracy, giving all of us collectively, the  power to hold a politician accountable.

Scott Walker got himself elected on false pretenses, like a job applicant who lies on his resume. Had he divulged his true plan for the office, the “bomb” he dropped in January 2011, or how he planned to accomplish it, prior to his election, he never could have won.  He knew that. So he talked about 250,000 jobs and cutting your taxes, and glossed over everything else.

Now we have seen what he has done with the office and it is time to give him the boot, just like that job applicant that sounded good on his fake resume but didn’t work out. Scott Walker has torn our little office apart and will say anything to keep his job. But his job was to represent all of us, and he has failed.

The recall is about Walker, and we can’t forget that. So Democrats and progressives need to get out of our little funk and get back in the fight. There are only two weeks left.

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