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Republican Open-pit Iron Ore Mining Bill Bad for Wisconsin

Posted by Dr. Steve Kagen, M.D.
Dr. Steve Kagen, M.D.
Dr. Steve Kagen, M.D. is a physician and a former congressman from Appleton.
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 13 March 2013
in Wisconsin

APPLETON - Shame, shame, shame on all legislators who voted for dirty air, dirty water and bad health for people in Wisconsin.

Remember, we have seen this movie before. It's called the China Way, and it did not have a happy ending. China sacrificed its environment for short-term economic gain, and their people are now paying the highest price possible: more cancer, more dirty air and water pollution that can never be undone.

The Wisconsin Way must never become the China Way, for in Wisconsin we believe in clean air, clean water and healthy people - not corporate greed.

Please join me in supporting the Bad River Band of Lake Superior in their efforts to protect Wisconsin's precious environment. Together, We Will...

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Rand Paul Right On This One

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 07 March 2013
in Our View

rand_paulGREEN BAY - Yesterday, Rand Paul spent thirteen hours on the Senate floor conducting an old fashioned filibuster questioning the U.S. drone policy. Rand Paul has a lot of lame ideas, but on this one he was right on both questioning the policy and the method in which he did it.

In the first place, he had the guts to actually stand up on the Senate floor and speak his mind for as long as he could in a filibuster as intended by the framers of our Constitution. Of course, it was theatrics, but that’s what a filibuster is. He did not hide behind the questionable rule commonly used in the Senate to stop discussion by merely saying you want to filibuster. He stood up and talked. He took responsibility for his words. It was a fundamental exercise in democracy that progressives should applaud.

But in a larger sense, in forcing a discussion of the Constitutionality of our government’s use of drones to kill people without charge or even demonstration of just cause in a Court of law, Rand Paul has forced us to face a question we have dodged for over ten years. Under our Constitution, even in a time of fear, how do we keep our form of democratic government viable while still providing for our defense.

It is a thin line and delicate balance. As progressives, we all love President Obama and generally trust him to do the right thing. But our founders had just cause to fear too much arbitrary power in the hands of one leader, as in a King, and placed in our Constitution a division of power between three branches. A President could lead us in war, but only after the people through their representatives in Congress declared it a war, and even then the President’s power was limited by the Courts and the law of the land.

On September 11, 2001 our nation was profoundly shocked by a dastardly attack by an international group of terrorists, and in the atmosphere of fear that followed President George W. Bush embarked our nation on a war-like foreign policy that lead to our invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and a number of policies on the treatment of combatants that clearly stretched the limits of our law and national character. The Congress, too timid to appear to question the public mood, looked the other way rather than declare it a real war. The draft was gone, and the majority of people really didn’t have to get involved. And the undeclared war against some shadowy, undefined terrorist enemy has continued for over ten years.

Osama bin Laden is dead, our adventure in Iraq has concluded, and the commitment of troops in Afghanistan is winding down. Our national treasury has been bled dry. The question now is “when does it all end?” When do we go back to being the nation of law and rules I remember as a boy?

Rand Paul has done us a service in pushing this debate, at least a little bit, back into our public consciousness. As citizens of a country we declare a democracy, we should not let it slip back under the rug.

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Scott Walker Beats the Rap in Milwaukee John Doe Investigation

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 05 March 2013
in Our View

scott-walkerMADISON - On Friday we learned that Scott Walker will not be charged with crimes in the John Doe criminal corruption probe. Six close associates of Walker were convicted in actions directly related to Walker and some currently sit in prison. Nineteen individuals, constituting Walker's entire inner circle, were granted transactional immunity for their truthful testimony.

The entire affair speaks directly to Scott Walker's bad values. The court record speaks clearly to the fact that Scott Walker was directly involved in criminal activity. That he was not charged with crimes is no feather in his cap-the standard should be much higher for an elected official.

But does it matter that Walker acts, and the people around him act, as if though he is above the law?

This investigation was without precedent, and as it ends, we have a clear picture of Scott Walker. He has abused the trust of the people he is supposed to serve. He wasn't charged with crimes, but he clearly was involved in crimes.

Scott Walker beat the rap. We can only hope that the corruption that he brought with him from Milwaukee does not continue any more in his current administration.

Now that the investigation is over, we should expect that all documents obtained throughout the course of the John Doe to be made public. When all the documents are out, the fuller picture of Scott Walker's involvement will finally be revealed, as will the involvement of several current cabinet and administration officials. Any governor whose greatest accomplishment in his first two years in office is that he escaped the criminal charges for which several close aides were brought to justice really needs more to brag about. So far, Scott Walker has cleared the bar set by Illinois, but barely.

Wisconsin’s Republican governors in recent decades have gone from red vests to (almost) orange jumpsuits. Robert M. LaFollette must be not just rolling over in his grave, but downright glad that he’s dead and doesn’t have to witness this from above the ground.

As it stands, Scott Walker is the most investigated governor in Wisconsin history. By Scott Walker’s own standards, he should be considered unfit for public office.

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A smart health care marketplace!

Posted by Dr. Steve Kagen, M.D.
Dr. Steve Kagen, M.D.
Dr. Steve Kagen, M.D. is a physician and a former congressman from Appleton.
User is currently offline
on Monday, 25 February 2013
in Wisconsin

APPLETON - In 2006, I ran for public office for the first time in my life to end discrimination against my patients with pre-existing medical conditions - and I succeeded.

After a century of trying, we finally established that health care is a civil right. Beginning next January, no insurance company, anywhere in these United States, will be allowed to decline insurance coverage to any citizen. In other words, if you're a citizen, you're in. As a physician, I know this is a really big deal.

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was signed into law nearly three years ago, yet most families and small business owners are still unaware of the new freedoms they've won. Families can now have peace of mind, for no longer will they go broke and lose their home just because a loved one becomes seriously ill. Small business owners are now receiving tax credits to help pay for their employees' insurance coverage. Simply put, the Affordable Care Act is good for your health and your business.

Our new law puts patients first, holds insurers accountable, strengthens Medicare and levels the playing field for small businesses. Putting patients first means physicians may do what is best for patients. No thoughtful person can oppose the freedoms we've won. But your new freedoms are yours for only as long as you can hold onto them.

We have begun to improve upon what we already have, but there is much work to do. This year, we must create a truly competitive health insurance marketplace in Wisconsin. Gov. Scott Walker had the authority to do this, but he refused to do so even though the Wisconsin Regulatory Review Report of 2013 that he commissioned found the cost for health care is the top concern of small business owners. Our governor turned his back on my patients and small business owners, so it is up to us to write the rules for Wisconsin's new Health Care Marketplace.

To guarantee we receive the care we need at prices we can afford, critical questions must be answered. What do you want Wisconsin's health insurance marketplace to look like? What piece of the pie should insurance executives be allowed to take? Would you like to see the price of a pill before you swallow it?

Consider these questions:

Whose side do you want your doctor to be on, yours or the insurance company?

Should every insurance company have to sell the same health benefit plan so we can compare their quality, price and service apples to apples?

Should every business selling health care products and services have to openly disclose all their prices, so we can shop for the highest-quality care at the best possible price?

Should all patients be treated equally and at the same price for the same service?

Do you want to be rewarded for living a healthy lifestyle by paying less for your health insurance?

Do you want to be free to choose your personal physician, hospital and insurance plan?

Do you want to be free to go to any physician or health facility that accepts the same terms of your insurance plan?

Should insurance companies be allowed to write their own rules?

Answering these and other questions will help responsible officials to establish a patient-centered and highly competitive medical marketplace, one in which we will all have the freedom to choose our own caregivers based upon their quality, price and service.

Now is the time to think things all the way through. Take time today and visit these informational websites: www.Healthcare.gov and www.sba.gov/content/health-care.

As a practicing physician and co-author of our nation's new law, I am convinced today more than ever that we can fix what is broken in our health care delivery system state-by-state by putting patients first and creating a truly competitive medical marketplace.

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Scott Walker’s Budget Continues State on March to Tea Party Right

Posted by Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Bob Kiefert is the Publisher of the Northeast Wisconsin - Green Bay Progressive.
User is currently offline
on Friday, 22 February 2013
in Our View

scott-walker-clapsMADISON - In his biennial budget address, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker had a chance to reverse the policies that caused so much unrest and recall elections in his first two years in office. Instead of moving to represent all of us, he chose to double down on his commitment to national right wing interest groups over the people of Wisconsin.

Governor Walker laid out a budget that favors corporate campaign donors and out-of-state special interests, at the expense of Wisconsin’s middle class families. While he has spent the past several months paying lip service to moderation, this latest budget proves that all that talk was just talk. There is more of the same policies that have Wisconsin ranked 42nd in the nation in job growth and 2nd to last in economic growth prospects.

Such priorities in Wisconsin as education, health care and jobs-creating infrastructure continue to face a deficit under Scott Walker and his budget. There was no attempt to provide a stronger education system by refunding the devastating cuts of last session to ensure our children have access to a quality education. He also did not provide for a stronger BadgerCare system, fully funded and truly covering 175,000 more working Wisconsinites. Finally, the budget missed a middle class jobs plan that increases access to worker training, access to capital for small businesses and incentivizes buying Wisconsin and buying American.

Scott Walker must think our memories are short and that, by making miniscule investments in schools, tech colleges and job training we won't remember that he slashed those same programs to the bone just two years ago. Will Wisconsin voters give the Governor credit for investing a penny where two years ago he cut a dollar?

Scott Walker’s new budget continues to short change public education, harm job creation, grow the debt and weaken the economic security of Wisconsin’s middle class. The following is a short summary of some of the issues.

ON JOBS

Despite the undying work ethic of Wisconsin’s middle class families, our state is last in the Midwest in virtually every economic indicator while neighboring states enjoy a robust recovery.

This budget fails to introduce any substantive economic development programs and throws chump change at worker training after $72 million in cuts in the last budget

Now, in the face of historic failure, Walker is wasting taxpayer dollars on an $11 million propaganda campaign to make people believe we are doing well instead of fixing the problem

In the face of a crucial skills gap, Scott Walker chose to cut Wisconsin back to vocational technical funding at 1989 levels. His current budget does not fix the damage already done.

Not only have jobs left Wisconsin under Scott Walker’s watch, wages and standards of living have diminished as well.

ON HEALTH CARE

Scott Walker’s budget prevents tens of thousands of people from getting access to healthcare.

Walker’s policies may play well in right-wing circles, but the reality is the cost of care in Wisconsin will be higher and fewer will have access to it.

By saddling Wisconsin with $250 million more in health care costs by turning away Medicaid expansion, and by deep cuts to BadgerCare and aid to seniors, Walker is ensuring that taxpayers will pay more for health care and more out-of-pocket.

ON EDUCATION/VOUCHERS

Through the budget process, Walker has already cut more than $1.6 billion from public education. This budget does nothing to repair the damage to our schoolchildren and Wisconsin’s competitiveness in a global marketplace.

The proposed budget increase for education would not add a single dollar, a single penny to the classrooms. Wisconsin school districts would continue to operate under the same funding levels and the increase in funds will just relieve some of the local tax levies.

Scott Walker’s voucher plan takes your tax money to pay for the wealthy to attend private schools and leave the public schools to fail.

Weakening public schools in the midst of a jobs crisis by funneling money to private schools can only continue Wisconsin’s downward economic spiral, which has us lagging nationally in job growth.

By expanding vouchers for private schools, Scott Walker is punishing public schools, rewarding out-of-state donors, and harming our children.

ON THE STATE INCOME TAX

Scott Walker is masking a tax cut that would disproportionately benefit the wealthiest by calling it a middle class tax cut.

A true middle class tax cut would not give the biggest breaks to those making over $200,000 a year as Governor Walker’s proposal is expected to do

Democrats support giving Wisconsin’s middle class families a tax break, but Governor Walker’s proposal is not that. It does not call for shared sacrifice and for everyone to pay their fair share.

ON TRANSPORTATION SPENDING

Walker is seeking $6.4 billion in new transportation spending even as Wisconsin suffers record debt under his fiscal mismanagement. He plans on paying for this special interest giveaway by the irresponsible sale of public assets.

To pay for his new transportation spending, Walker is conducting a firesale of Wisconsin assets to his corporate benefactors.

ON THE WAR ON WOMEN

By defunding women’s health clinics such as Planned Parenthood, Walker has continued the “War on Women” that treats women as second-class citizens.

Because of his ideologically-driven cuts, Walker has left thousands of rural women without access to birth control, cervical cancer screenings and other forms of life-saving health care.

Additionally, Walker’s refusal to restore wage equity protections shows an alarming lack of compassion for women who do not receive equal pay for equal work.

ON INNOVATION

Scott Walker’s claim that his historic cuts to education, infrastructure and health care are “innovations” is false. What Walker is doing is part of the same old ideology that rewards corporate benefactors and ideological fellow travelers at the expense of workers, seniors, the middle class and the most vulnerable.

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